OC Transpo promises better communication about LRT slowdowns following heat delay
A train approaches the platform at Hurdman Station along the Confederation Line of Ottawa's LRT system. (CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- OC Transpo is promising to provide more proactive communication about delays on the LRT caused by extreme heat.
On Thursday, trains were forced to slow down to a maximum speed of 50 km/h on parts of the 12.5 km Confederation Line because of the effect the heat was having on the tracks.
In a tweet, OC Transpo said this was a standard operating procedure on rail lines across Canada, and it has been in place on the nearly 20-year-old Trillium Line as well.
Via Rail has a section on its website describing how heat affects travel times.
Thursday's tweet by OC Transpo was the first of its kind reporting this standard procedure on the Confederation Line, despite extreme temperatures in late May.
In an emailed statement to CTV News, Director of Rail Operations Troy Charter said the tweet went out Thursday because of numerous requests about the slowdowns.
"On Thursday, OC Transpo received multiple questions regarding the speed of the trains and provided information via customer alerts and twitter to respond to and inform customers," Charter said.
He said that, previously, slowdowns of this nature were not broadly communicated because they were not expected to have a significant effect on travel times; however, he added that the information would be more readily provided in the future, after the LRT reopens from its current weeklong closure.
"Speed reductions have not always been communicated to customers through OC Transpo’s customer alert system and social media, as the impact on service and on customers’ trips are most often minimal," Charter said. "As part of our ongoing commitment to keep customers informed, when Line 1 re-opens following the current temporary closure, updates will be provided via alerts and on Twitter regarding speed restrictions that may impact customers’ travel time."
Charter confirmed that trains were required to slow down on May 26 and 27 of this year, when temperatures reached up to 35°C, and that speed reductions have been put in place on the north-south Trillium Line several times.
"From 2015 to 2019, there were approximately 34 occurrences when trains operated at a reduced speed on Line 2, the Trillium Line, due to extreme heat," Charter said.
The Trillium Line is closed until 2022 for construction of Stage 2 of LRT, which will expand the line to Riverside South and the airport. The Confederation Line is closed until at least the end of the week for extended maintenance as the City of Ottawa pushes the Rideau Transit Group to fix issues on the nine-month-old system by the end of the summer.